...unless your righteousness [your uprightness and right standing with God] is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.
And why is that, because the Pharisees were exacting & scrupulous in their attempts to follow their laws. So how could Jesus reasonably call us to greater righteousness than theirs? For the Pharisees' weakness was that they were content to obey the laws outwardly without allowing God to change their hearts [or attitudes]. ... And so, Jesus was saying that his listeners needed a different kind of righteousness altogether [out of love for God], not just a more intense version of the Pharisees' obedience [which was more legal compliance].
Therefore, our righteousness must...
- First of all, come from what God does in us, not what we can do by ourselves.
- Then second of all, we must be God-centered, not self-centered.
- And then the third thing is, that our righteousness must be based on reverence for God, not approval from people, and
- Last of all, our righteousness must go beyond keeping the law to living by the principles behind the law. For we should be just as concerned about our attitudes that people don't see as about our actions that are seen by all.
Because, you were created in the image and likeness of God. You were made for God's fellowship and your heart can never be satisfied without His communion. So just as iron is attracted to a magnet, the soul in its state of hunger is drawn to God. For although you, like thousands of others, may feel in the state of sin that the world is more alluring and more to your liking, some day - perhaps even now as you read these words - you will acknowledge that there is something deep down inside you which cannot be satisfied by the alloy of earth. Then with David, the Psalmist who had sampled the delicacies of sin and found them unsatisfying, you will say, "Oh God, you are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water.
And so, in the Lord all... generations of Israel will be justified and in Him they will boast.
And yet, we humans want to do things our way.
For we want to forget the easy way.
Forget the common way.
Forget the best way.
Forget God's way.
We want to do things our way.
And according to the Bible, that's precisely our problem. "We all have wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way."
And yet, you wouldn't think sheep would be obstinate. Because, of all God's animals, the sheep is the least able to take care of himself. Because sheep are dumb! Yet have you ever met a sheep trainer? Or have you even see sheep tricks? Or do you know anyone who has taught his sheep to roll over? Or have you ever witnessed a circus sideshow featuring "Mazadon and his jumping sheep?" Of course you haven't, and nor have I, because sheep are just too dumb, and defenseless. They have no fangs or claws. They can't bite you or outrun you. And that's why you never see sheep as team mascots. But we've heard of the St. Louis Rams and the Chicago Bulls and the-Seattle Seahawks, but the New York Lambs? Who wants to be a lamb? You couldn't even stir up a decent yell for the cheerleaders. And yet, we are the sheep. We don't make a peep. And victory is yours to keep. But count us if you want to sleep. ...
Still uncomfortable with being considered a sheep? Then will you humor me and take a simple quiz? See if you succeed in self-reliance. Raise your hand if any of the following describe you.
- You can control your moods.
- You're never grumpy or sullen. ...
- You're always upbeat and upright.
Does that describe you? No? Well, let's try another.
- You are at peace with everyone.
- Every relationship is sweet as fudge.
- Love all and are loved by all.
Is that you? If not, how about this description?
- You have no fears.
- Call you the Teflon toughie. ...
Does this describe you? Ok, then how about this?
- You need no forgiveness.
- You've never made a mistake.
- As square as a game of checkers. ...
- You've never cheated, never lied, never lied about cheating.
Is that you? No?
Then let's evaluate this.
- You can't control your moods.
- You have fears and faults. Hmmmmmmm <--- Shocked look
So then, do you really want to hang on to your chest of self-reliance? Sounds to me as if you could use a shepherd.
And so, I tell you.... , unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Because, it is easy to lose our eternal perspective and compete for promotions. ... While it is difficult, but healthy, to identify with "children" -- weak and dependent people with no status or influence.
So clean house!!!! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. For you've had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God's pure kindness. Then you'll grow up mature and whole in God.
Composed by Ann Munro